Agnes Grey, the daughter of a clergyman who’s had a reversal of fortunes, determines to get a job working as a governess to make ends meet. Her first post is as the governess to what must be literature’s most spoiled brats, the Bloomwood children of Wellwood House. After being subjected to employers that would put Miranda Pristley in The Devil Wears Prada or the Xs in The Nanny Diaries to shame, Agnes is fired (her gain, I think) and seeks another post, this time at Horton Lodge, where her charges are Miss Rosalie Murray and Miss Miranda Murray. While there, Agnes becomes acquainted with the village’s curate, Edward Weston. Its not difficult to guess what happens there.
Anne’s sister, Charlotte, glamorized and romanticized the life of a governess somewhat in Jane Eyre. Apparently, Anne’s description of the tribulations Agnes goes through are nearly true to life. The first few chapters are devoted to Agnes’s complaining about the treatment she receives at the hands of the Bloomwood children, but the story picks up when she arrives at Horton Lodge and Rosalie has her coming-out party. Rosalie Morton is another spoiled, selfish brat, but her personality is more fleshed out than those of the Bloomwoods. She provides the perfect contrast to Agnes’s demure, subdued demeanor. If you’ve read Wuthering Heights and/or Jane Eyre, be prepared for the fact that Agnes Grey is a lot more down-to-earth and provincial--it actually reminded me a bit of George Eliot's Middlemarch, or The Mill On the Floss. But its not without its merits. It's too bad that Anne Bronte is so often overshadowed by her sisters, because this is a very fine novel.
Also reviewed by: BCF Book Reviews, Kay's Bookshelf